Why Don’t Young Americans Buy Cars?
Is it rising gas prices? Concern for the environment? A desire for lifelong health? SABA members – Millennials or not – have already shirked the car for decades in favor of a better alternative, the bicycle. Young people are now taking that leap much quicker and in higher numbers.
From The Atlantic:
This week, the New York Times pulled back the curtain on General Motors’ recent, slightly bewildered efforts to connect with the Millennials — that giant generational cohort born in the 1980s and 1990s whose growing consumer power is reshaping the way corporate America markets its wares. Unfortunately for car companies, today’s teens and twenty-somethings don’t seem all that interested in buying a set of wheels. They’re not even particularly keen on driving.
The Times notes that less than half of potential drivers age 19 or younger had a license in 2008, down from nearly two-thirds in 1998. The fraction of 20-to-24-year-olds with a license has also dropped. And according to CNW research, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 buy just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, a far cry from the peak of 38 percent in 1985.
At a major conference last year, Toyota USA President Jim Lentz offered up a fairly doleful summary of the industry’s challenge.
“We have to face the growing reality that today young people don’t seem to be as interested in cars as previous generations,” Lentz said. “Many young people care more about buying the latest smart phone or gaming console than getting their driver’s license.”
On a recent Tuesday morning in the General Motors Technical Center, which was designed by Eero Saarinen, a couple of car executives huddled around a “persona board” in the color and trim laboratory.